Washing up tea cups after the party
The fuss over phosphate bans provides an object lesson in the paranoid politics of the Tea Party's anti-liberal backlash
As soon as Spokane County in Washington banned phosphate dish detergent in response to oxygen depletion in its rivers and lakes, many residents rebelled by actually driving to Idaho to purchase the same kinds of dish detergent they'd been using before.
And while the big cities in Washington often pull the elections to the left, the countryside and suburbs of the state are stuffed with embittered reactionaries who are eager to believe they're being victimised by a bunch of dumb environmentalists who are incapable of thinking through the ramifications of a policy like this.
Rightwing bloggers gleefully seized on this story of dish detergent smuggling, gloating that Washington residents were sticking it to the environmentalists by using more gas to buy detergent and using more water to wash dishes. Of course, the ugly reality is that wastefulness has a larger impact than upsetting environmentalists – it means fewer resources for the future and a dirtier environment, of course – but the sheer glee of potentially inflicting stress on demonised environmentalists was enough to distract from these facts.
The commenters at Free Republic also enjoyed gloating over the possibility that this would lead to more water use, showing those dirty hippies (their term) how stupid and short-sighted they were. In a telling exchange, one commenter asked, "I'm not exactly sure what the greenies are trying to accomplish, here…", and another replied, "It feeeeeeeeels good, and it demonstrates their 'concern'. That's all that really matters with the libs, not actual results."
Except, of course, that a short Google search would have resulted in immediate knowledge of what the "greenies" were trying to accomplish: reducing the amount of oxygen depletion in Spokane rivers and lakes that was killing off the fish. But the first rule of reactionary politics is: don't learn about the issues, or else you might find your kneejerk anti-liberal reactions weren't as smart as you thought they were.
Large parts of America have been primed through little issues such as phosphate bans to believe they don't need to know the actual facts behind an issue because they can simply substitute their paranoid hostility towards liberals for understanding.
Worse, they've given up any sense of responsibility as citizens towards the common good. Once people have absorbed the idea that wiping off an occasional glass is too much of a sacrifice to save the environment for the good of everyone else, it's not much of a leap for those same people to think that it's a travesty if someone poorer than themselves has decent access to healthcare, that they should have to take public transportation rather than leave the next generation with a planet wrecked through global warming, or that it's worse to raise the taxes on the richest Americans by 3% than have widespread unemployment.
Yes Dear, so a little Prohibition is rebelled at because not all the people are sheeple and it proves the end of civilisation is nigh. Those bastard anti-Greens hate the poor and society and me.....